INDIAN Railways (IR) is accelerating the deployment of the domestically developed Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), now known as Kavach, with the aim of installing it on 2000 route-km in the current financial year.

Kavach would then be installed on a further 4000 route-km each year, with the aim of equipping IR’s 68,446 route-km network by 2028.

The system has been developed in India by the Rail Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in collaboration with Medha Servo Drives, HBL Power Systems and Kernex Microsystems.

Intended to provide a more cost-effective alternative to ETCS Level 2, Kavach automatically applies the brakes and brings the train to a stand when another train is detected on the same line, or when the driver passes a signal at danger.

In the cab, there is an On Board Display of Signal Aspect (OBDSA) for the driver, while lineside RFID is used to identify trains and their direction.

Kavach is in operation on 1098 route-km on IR’s South Central Railway, and IR estimates that it will cost Rs 250bn ($US 3.2bn) to install it on its 11,000km High Density Network and the 13,000km Highly Utilised Network.

Within a budget of Rs 15bn, the Ministry of Railways called tenders earlier this year to install Kavach on 3009 route-km in IR’s Eastern, East Central, North Western, Western, Northern and North Central zones. Two of the 10 bids were opened last month, while the remaining eight are to be finalised within the next three months, according to the ministry.

India’s railways minister, Mr Ashwani Vaishnaw, recently told parliament that a three-member technical committee had been set up to upgrade Kavach, with the idea of offering the product to the global rail market.

Kavach has a deployment cost of Rs 5m per km, compared with an estimated deployment cost of Rs 20m per km for ETCS Level 2.

The system currently uses ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio for communications between onboard and lineside equipment, and research is in progress to make Kavach compatible with 4G long-term evolution (LTE) technology to enhance its export potential.